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Consider the following sentence:

If you use {foreign word} with {the equivalent of "in"} then what you're referring to is a place that you're familiar with, one that you probably love and have good memories.

Can "that" be used as both "which" and "where" at the same time here?
I would also go as far as asking: can I omit it?

2 Answers 2

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You can use "that" as both which and where, but you need to append "of" to the end of the sentence:

"what you're referring to is a place that you're familiar with, one that you probably love and have good memories of"

Likewise, you can also omit "that":

"what you're referring to is a place that you're familiar with, one you probably love and have good memories of"

This is because you drop out the first part of the and, leaving you with "what you're referring to is a place that you're familiar with, one that you probably love and have good memories of"

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  • Thank you. But doesn't using "of" at the end make "that" mean "which" in both phrases?
    – Mohammad
    May 18, 2021 at 15:06
  • I'm not entirely sure what you're asking, as i would have thought they were both "which" even before adding "of", as the sentence is non-defining. I didn't notice the misuse of that vs which at first, but i would say it is better to use "which" in this case May 18, 2021 at 15:12
  • Maybe I wasn't very clear in my question. The two phrases which I would like to combine using one "that" are: 1)which you probably love. 2)where you have good memories.
    – Mohammad
    May 18, 2021 at 15:18
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    I must have missed that. You can't combine the two with "that", but as I said, you can convert "where you have good memories" to "which you have good memories of" May 18, 2021 at 15:20
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    Alternatively, to avoid having that preposition at the end of the utterance, ...one you probably love and of which you have good memories (where you has to be repeated, because the two consecutive constructions are no longer sufficiently "parallel" to allow deletion of repeated elements). May 18, 2021 at 15:33
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The pronouns "that" and "which" are used to introduce relative clauses, but there's a big difference between the two, especially in speech. Consider the following examples:

This is the house that I like that has a swimming pool.

The relative clause "that has a swimming pool" restrictively modifies "house that I like," suggesting that you know that I like multiple houses, so I'm narrowing it down for you by telling you that this house of those houses that you know I like is the one with a swimming pool, the swimming pool being the feature that sets it apart from the rest.

This is the house that I like, which has a swimming pool.

The relative clause "which has a swimming pool" nonrestrictively modifies "house that I like, suggesting that there's only one house that I like, not multiples houses, and telling you it has a swimming pool, information that is purely parenthetical and nonessential to the operation of the sentence, just an added bit of trivia.

In the above examples, the first has no comma, while the second example has a comma. Since grammar calls for there being no comma between a restrictive clause and the antecedent it modifies, not seeing a comma in the first sentence immediately tells us that that's a restrictive clause, and since grammar calls for there being a comma between a nonrestrictive clause and the antecedent it modifies, seeing a comma in the second sentence immediately tells us that it's a nonrestrictive clause.

However, when we're speaking and not reading, we don't have the benefit of seeing if there's a comma there or not, nor can we hear that comma because it generally results in no discernable pause, so when speaking, how we communicate that the clause is restrictive, like in the first example, is we use "that" and how we communicate the clause is nonrestrictive, like the second example, is we use "which."

If the first "that" clause were a nonrestrictive clause, the sentence would instead be said and written as follows:

"What you're referring to is a place, which you're familiar with, one that you probably love and have good memories of."

As a nonrestrictive clause, you'd offset the clause with commas on either side and use "which," not "that," never "that."

If the second "that" clause were a nonrestrictive clause, the sentence would instead be spoken and written as follows:

"What you're referring to is a place that you're familiar with, one which you probably love and have good memories of."

That would essentially be the same as saying or writing:

"What you're referring to is a place that you're familiar with, which you probably love and have good memories of.

If that sentence had NO nonrestrictive clauses, then you'd say and write:

"What you're referring to is a place that you're familiar with that you probably love and have good memories of."

Notice the lack of commas around the "that" clauses. Now, if you were to insert "one" into the sentence, the word "one" is being used pronounally to introduce a second item in a list of two items in which you don't use the conjunction "and," so a comma is grammatically required, not because it's a nonrestrictive clause but because of the lack of "and," and you know it's not a nonrestrictive clause because you don't use "which" but use "that," as follows:

What you're referring to is a place that you're familiar with, one (a place) that you probably love and have good memories of.

THE POINT OF THIS ANSWER IS TO EXPLAIN HOW "THAT" AND "WHICH" ARE USED DIFFERENTLY AND THAT WHEN YOU SAY THAT ONE "THAT" MEANS "WHICH" AND THE OTHER MEANS "WHERE" IN YOUR SENTENCE, IT'S INCORRECT. NEITHER MEANS "WHICH." OR IF ONE IS SUPPOSED TO, THEN YOU'VE WRITTEN IT INCORRECTLY AND SHOULD REFER TO ONE OF THE ABOVE EXAMPLES AS THE CORRECTION.

ALSO, NOTICE THE "OF" I ADDED AT THE END OF EACH EXAMPLE. IT'S REQUIRED. WHETHER "THAT YOU HAVE GOOD MEMORIES" OR "WHICH YOU HAVE GOOD MEMORIES," NEITHER IS COMPLETE. BOTH REQUIRE THE PREPOSITION "OF."

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  • Thank you so much for your very, very helpful answer.
    – Mohammad
    May 19, 2021 at 7:15

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